About 250 people attended an animated community meeting in Narromine on Thursday to learn more about the progress of the federal government’s multi-billion dollar Inland Rail project.
It was heated at times as residents questioned the lack of consultation with landholders (an unknown number were mistakenly omitted from consultation earlier this year) and pushed for more information around compensation.
Inland Rail’s program property manager Peter Dorrough said no determinations would be made about land acquisitions until the Inland Rail alignment was refined.
“My role … has been to ensure that landholders get not a dollar more and not a dollar less than what they are fully entitled to,” he said.
“We will approach that with a fair and reasonable attitude towards each individual owner and their individual circumstances.
“The whole process of compensation is that you are in a financial position exactly the same as you were before.”
NSW Farmers treasurer Peter Wilson, a Trangie resident, questioned whether landowners would receive compensation for business interruption, emotional and historical attachment to land or the costs associated with relocation.
“I … have quite some experience with compensation for acquisition … it always seems to me that the landowner has a really hard job getting full and proper compensation,” Mr Wilson said.
Residents of the High Park and Villeneuve estates questioned whether there would be compensation for the loss of serenity, with the rail line set to run 24 hours a day.
Mr Dorrough confirmed landowners and others with a financial interest in an acquired property could be entitled to compensation, but people outside the corridor were unlikely to be eligible.
“That’s really a deficiency in the Act [Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 – NSW],” Mr Wilson said.
“If ARTC just stick to what the Act describes, there will be people who probably think they’re insufficiently compensated.”
He said the lack of consultation was an ongoing issue across the study corridor.
“Putting in that corridor without contacting those people is just abysmal,” Mr Wilson said. “I can only hope that these promises about how it will go forward from here come to pass.”
Inland Rail program delivery manager for NSW and Victoria Olivia Newman said there was no excuse for the lack of consultation.
“It’s an honest mistake and I know that they’re just words to the landholders in that area but it was an honest mistake,” Ms Newman said.
“So what we’re going to do to fix it is that they’re a priority for us and we’ve already started talking with them.”